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Kazakhstan Back In The Grain Export Business

Kazakhstan s state-owned grain trader will return to the export market this season, shipping up to 1.5 million tonnes of what promises to be the country s biggest post- Soviet grain crop, the head of the company said.

Beibitkhan Kabdrakhmanov, chairman of the management board at the Food Contract Corporat ion, forecast that Kazakhstan would have an exportable grain surplus of around 13 million tonnes in the current marketing year.

We will export and we will sell on the domestic market. We will look at all the options for selling this grain: China, Central Asia, Iran, Black and Baltic Sea ports, Kabdrakhmanov told Reuters in an interview.

A bumper crop across the former Soviet Union portends a recovery in Black Sea exports this season, making for a competitive market with prices at a level allowing the region to regain Middle East and North African markets from rivals.

Kazakhstan, the world s seventh or eighth-largest wheat exporter in a typical season, is this year expecting its largest grain crop since independence from the Soviet Union 20 years ago.

Kabdrakhmanov said a crop of 24 million tonnes would leave a total surplus of 13 million tonnes for export.

Kazakhstan exported 5.9 million tonnes of wheat and flour in the marketing year to June 30, 2011.

Chal lenged by vast distances to ports on the Black and Baltic Seas, Kazakh wheat is often uncompetitive with Russian and Ukrainian grain.

To help overcome this disadvantage, the Kazakh government is paying a $40 per tonne subsidy on rail shipments up to a total volume of 2.5 million tonnes this season. The country is also leasing extra wagons to deliver the grain to port.

Kabdrakhmanov said said an idea to effect grain swaps with Russia to save on transport costs had merit and would be discussed further, but added he had less confidence in a plan to swap grain with Iran to improve access to the Persian Gulf.

If we were to supply our Kazakh grain to northern Iran, would they be able to supply us with grain of the same quality at the Persian Gulf? I doubt it, Kabdrakhmanov said.

He said that Kazakh grain would always be in demand for its high quality. Our grain is considered to be among the best in the world, he said. Our grain is in demand. Wouldn t it be great if we also had good access to the sea?

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